There seems to be an on-going debate that seems to get people a little bit flustered. And that is the topic of what actually constitutes vintage fashion.
There is one simple answer to this … who cares?! If you like it, and it hasn’t been pieced together by a small child, then just shut up and wear it!
At the end of the day, vintage is a powerful sector of the sustainable fashion market, reusing old loves instead of creating new. Quibbling over whether it should be called vintage or retro is neither here nor there. There are only two exceptions to this rule in my book.
Beef no. 1: Charging an arm and a leg for a 1940s dress that was actually made in 70s. There is very little vintage from the 40s in the UK because of wartime clothing rationing. Some is imported from North America, but it’s a bit few and far between. However, there is plenty of ‘vintage inspired’ 40s clothing that was actually made in the 70s. Some of it is rather nice. There’s no reason not to wear it, but just be careful for what you pay for it. Some vintage dealers will try to pass it off as authentic when clearly it isn’t. Here are some things to check for:
– Is it made from synthetic material? The 60s and 70s saw a revolution in fabric technology. A lot of this fabric was very hard wearing, which is why you see a lot of it about now. Pre-60s there was very little. In short, if it ain’t cotton it ain’t an antique.
– Is there overlocking? Overlocking machines didn’t appear in commercial manufacturing until the 50s. If you see an item claiming to be from 40s or earlier then check the stitching on the hems before you fork out a fortune for it.
– Zips can be a sign of age, but can also be misleading because they have been replaced over time. Generally, metal zip on the side is an indication of the 1950s or earlier.
Beef no. 2: Listing items online as vintage when they’re actually vintage inspired eBay is the worst for this. The other day I actually saw a dress being listed as vintage and in the picture, I could see the Primark label. I do sometimes buy vintage inspired, and I don’t have a problem with it, but again it affects how much I’m prepared to pay for it. So eBay sellers who cheat like this I say, back off! Stop spoiling the fun for everyone else.
So in summary, it doesn’t matter if a 70s shift dress is called vintage or retro, just so long as it’s priced right.
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